In the last few weeks we have had many new subscribers, so this week we want to share some basic ideas about TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)™. Let’s start at the beginning and ask: How does our drama begin in the first place?
The simple, yet complex, explanation is that all of us as human beings learn and develop strategies to get what we want as children. As infants and toddlers we are little beings looking up at giant and powerful adults. We all used our innate survival instincts to secure food, sleep, warmth, love and safety the best we know how.
No one can escape the small-child experience of figuring out how to survive and deal with what the child sees as scary experiences. The creative genius of the young, underdeveloped mind adapts in amazing ways.
Psychologist Karen Horney studied human nature and in the 1940’s identified 3 different strategies that children can use to respond to fears. They are:
- Moving toward people to please, accommodate and be helpful. From a child’s perspective: “If I please others, I will be loved and cared for.”
- Moving away from others to avoid, withdraw, observe and wait. This is based upon the child’s belief that: “If I isolate, stand back and avoid engaging, I will be safe.”
- Moving against others by being aggressive. Here the child develops the idea that: “If I use control and domination and be assertive, I will manage my environment to get what I want.”
In the late 1960’s, Dr. Stephen Karpman developed the Karpman Drama Triangle, with its three roles of Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer. The Victim role that Karpman describes aligns itself with Korney’s “moving away” and not taking responsibility or believing they have power. The Persecuting role aligns with “moving against” others by taking control and being assertive. Karpman’s Rescuer role is like Horney’s “moving toward” strategy to use pleasing and accommodating to manage life’s challenges.
Our observation is that all three of Horney’s strategies are a result of a victim mentality that rests on a belief that life happens “to me.” As people get older they face hardships or loss. Most people adopt one of the primary drama roles to get them through the tough times. Gradually that can become an exaggerated way of relating to themselves and others. Going on autopilot, bouncing between all three roles, but relying primarily on your go to or default role, becomes commonplace.
This is how the drama begins!
Many aspects of the roles, if used in moderation, are useful and help human beings learn to cope and survive. But if the drama roles are the only strategy to get through life, the roles over time become outdated and limiting. Getting stuck in the DDT (Dreaded Drama Triangle™) limits effectiveness and prevents more creative ways to work with life’s challenges. By recognizing these patterns when they arise, you can observe them in action and choose a more empowering way to think, relate and take action that is embedded in the TED* roles.
The discovery of reoccurring DDT roles has meaning only if there is a possibility of liberating yourself from the repeating drama, and that is where TED* makes its contribution. In order to develop more resourceful and resilient relationships, the TED* roles model more positive ways of relating; more helpful than saying “just stop the drama!”
In future essays we will continue to share more about how to observe your behavior, redirect your thoughts and stories of how others are shifting from the DDT to TED*.